With continuing collaboration with VIGLOWA art director Mr. Shinohara, volume 3 of Inspire will explore the theme Vague. The theme was selected by speculating what defines beauty and how it may exist in a vast world of vagueness.
The Inspire project is my challenge as a photographer, to visualize concepts that often get neglected from typical advertisement photography. It is also a way for my work to reach people all over the globe.
＊ VIGLOWA is an art producer company. The name was derived with a combination of three words; vi (美beauty) + glow + wa (輪connection).
Without further ado, we’ve got Mr. Shinohara to share his thoughts.
Every time we get a chance to have a conversation like this, I am left amazed. Art directing for mainstream advertisement sector require both art direction and client’s marketing needs to come to an agreement.
Of course, for an idea to be accepted by a large organization it must go through number of filters which in turn get stream lined.
However, when collaborating with Mr. Hashida things only need to be agreed between the two of us. Ultimately I’m astonished by the final outcome that is always out-of-the-world imagination.
I see. Regular work as an art director must be very difficult. Anyway, what was the reason behind the theme “Vague”?
When I was brainstorming for a new theme, I had a feeling of uncertainness in regards to tendency to change my work procedure for Inspire projects.
When I’m working for a typical project, I’d individually propose comprehensive layouts and draft sketches, and we work towards that. But when I’m working with Mr. Hashida, I often anticipate results that are unconventional and different. It’d be senseless to simply toss that element of surprise, for the work style that I’m familiar with…
This uncertainness in thought, or vagueness, was how the theme vague had originated.
Speaking of vagueness, an image that captures such impression in my mind is a nightfall. The time where the daylight fades into darkness; definitively yet slowly, the light and time passes unhurriedly. I find beauty in a such moment of vagueness.
However, capturing such moment literally, would only result in quite predictable landscape photography.
Expressing something that is vague, I guess that is comparable to taking a photograph of air.
That is exactly right, just like air. But obviously taking photographs of air wouldn’t result in anything presentable. The question is how would that photograph be able to allow the audience to appreciate and challenge their own imagination.
There’s a well-known concept of figure-ground; though similar for our case, it would be without the figure.
For example, Yves Klein…
What about Mark Rothko? … (Gets immersed in the realm of art discussion)
Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.
Although I did agreed to participate on the project, how would I be able to express something that is vague? Vagueness; world without bounds; with this imagery, I’d straight away picture the world of Mark Rothko.
I can start working with the impression that I have about vagueness that is a style of Mark Rothko. However, similar to Inspire Vol 1. ~ half glass of water ~, I’d like a theme that has a clear message that relates to the branding of VIGLOWA. I need to know more about Mr. Shinohara’s affection towards the theme Vague.
Once again, I asked to Mr. Shinohara about the theme.
Just like Inspire Vol 1.’s theme ~ half glass of water ~, most things contain both positive and negative elements. With no exception, people contain elements just like the yin and yang. No matter how bright and successful the people appear to be, in the hidden side people often experience blood, toil, tears and sweat.
Without sadness, there is no joy.
The taste of delicious food after going through a plain diet.
Bustle of the city, to silence in the forests. The feel of the green grass after walking on the asphalt. Hope after despair.
There are numerous themes surrounding positivity, negativity and the contrast of the two. However many do not seem to capture the blurred line between the two; I was hoping the theme Vague, may be able to answer it.
Vagueness, it certainly is a profound theme. Stillness and movement, holy and evil, many things in fact do exist in contrary. Perhaps people spent their lives drifting amongst them; and that the blurred line between the two is where the truth exists. I’ll try and search for all sorts of vagueness.
Experimental photography continues…
The border between two contradicting worlds, that exists in vagueness; as well as beauty of the nightfall. Difficult task indeed …
For now, I focused on water and atmosphere: The boundary of the world.
After various attempts, I was able to capture an unexpected yet fantastic photograph.
Aiming for Rothko, I ended taking a photograph that resembles one of my favourite landscape artist from the 18th century, Joseph Mallard William Turner. Never have I taken a photograph that is as dictated by the shades of orange, nor have I taken a photograph that makes me forget the scaling of it. Usually I’d add more color and information and apply digital adjustments, however this photograph is untouched. There’s something about it that doesn’t make me tired of looking at.
J.M.W. Turner,who is one of my influenced creators, was the first artist to remove the border between water, ground and sky from the landscape paintings. That reminds me of a line I wrote for my solo exhibition a while back.
“Waterside for J.M.W. Turner became a beauty of Oasis, when the paintbrush disregarded the reality and the details from the landscape”
This piece of work was an unexpected result of my search for vagueness. For something planned to come out so unexpected, perhaps is the benefit of Inspire project. What’s Mr. Shinohara opinion? How about “Tempest” as the title.
I’ve sent the work to Mr. Shinohara.
I had a look at your work Mr. Hashida, and I am quite impressed. Tempest, Turner, Rothko… They’re all great but I rather feel much deeper spirituality from this piece of artwork.
For me, your J.M.W. Turner channels towards a Japanese Buddhist Monk, Kukai.
“Esoteric teaching cannot be taught simply by understanding. You must attain it with your body and senses as a whole.”
This was Kukai’s response to another Buddhist Monk Saicho, when Saicho asked Kukai to lend him the Esoteric Scripture. Kukai refused his favour.
In return, Saicho said “Kukai had broken beautiful Japanese tradition of learning by writing” and they end in quarrel.
Kukai had preached the significance of sensing, whereas Saicho insisted that learning is done by writing.
I feel that the esoteric teaching that Kukai talks about is the connection to the universe. Each human possesses something special similar to ether, and with the beat of the heart the energy of life vibrate out to the vast universe. Eventually the vibration reaches the very end of the universe, and it gets reflected back towards our bodies.
This work reminded me of the time I sensed those energy and vibration in Mt. Koya few years back. Honestly, your work blows my imagination every time.
Wow, thank you so much. To make you feel such sensation, and inspire one’s heart by this photograph alone, really means a lot to me and the purpose of this Inspire project. Although I think we’re both little too excited at this moment. Let’s rediscuss this when we have calmer state of mind.
Yes you do have a point. I do feel a mysterious energy from this work, however let’s rethink and verify our original theme Vague.
Perhaps we should also think outside of figure-ground which we discussed earlier.
Speaking of which, couple years back I went to James Turrell exhibition in the underground art museum located on Naoshima Island, in Seto Inland Sea. Perhaps one of his work “Open Field” may give you a hint; it’s an interactive art, and when you place yourself in the space of deep blue, it gives you extraordinary and floaty experience. Apparently this was Turrell’s restoration of his childhood memory, when he often went on board with his father who was Cessna’s commercial pilot. Once up in the sky, his father would turn the engine off; gliding through the clouds in a silent sky.
Turrell wanted to replicate that feel through this artwork.
Quickly I had a looked at James Turrell’s work on the internet. Recalling the discussion with Mr. Shinohara, I imagined to be wrapped in nightfall; to “experience” and let my thought ponder. Eventually, an image came down to me as the night sky unhurriedly pulled the blinds down the horizon …
Discussion with Mr. Shinohara surrounding James Turrell’s work really left strong impression on me. Especially the story behind Turrell’s work “Open field”, how he glided through the white clouds in the silent sky with his father.
This story quickly inspired me to visualize the theme vagueness.
Up until now, my idea about vagueness was finding a “subtle border” between world A and its opposing world B. Consequently, my thought was trapped in a box of two opposing worlds and its border, A + border + B. Similar to the style of Rothko.
However, after hearing James Turrell’s story, I realised that wasn’t it. Instead my focus should shift towards the world of vagueness itself; that feeling when Turrell immersed himself in the world full of white clouds; the feeling of being wrapped in vagueness.
Vagueness does not represent transitions between the two worlds. It is a feeling of embracement, inside an entirely different world created by the presence of the border between the two worlds.
In such world, there is no “border”; border becomes the entirety of the world. There’s no sense of time; what’s left is the feeling of floating consciousness, occasionally getting lost in the sensation. Then I finally realized, my job is to visualize this world of vagueness.
That’s how “Vague 1st” came about. I made luminous blue in it using International klein Blue.
I imagined a mirage of consciousness, existing in a nightfall. It was complete as a concept, however for a photographic expression I wanted to add more Dazzle to it. After few more attempts, I had to step aside for a bit; the work was becoming more or less descriptive and started to look like natural phenomena.
However I could not compromise. After numerous trial and error, Vague 2nd was taken.
However I could not compromise. After numerous trial and error, Vague 2nd was taken.
I thought it looked like an astrophotography at first, though more you looked at it, I became convinced that it was the nightfall I had visualized after all. For me, it is an eternity descending from the deep blue sky bringing calmness to the world.
I designed a poster with Mr. Hashida’s “Vague 2nd”.
What a beautiful blue that is. I can feel the beauty permeating deeply into core of my heart.
Now that I look back, the reason I am able to appreciate such silent beauty dates back to the time when I saw Yves Klein exhibition, which was over 30 years ago. Miraculously Mr.Hashida also used International Klein Blue made by Klein in this artwork. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say my life had changed forever after seeing that exhibition. Until then, I was convinced that Tadanori Yokoo style’s insistent design was the best; however after seeing Yves’s works, I did not realise a design method can be scraped and refined to such level.
It is around 0am at midnight at the time of this writing, and when I gaze at this photograph I feel my heart being stripped away of unwanted thoughts and get purified. Even when I’m feeling down and blue, this artwork would cleanse my soul. “Don’t compare yourself with others, walk a path that you believe in.” is a message I hear from this work.
I’d suggest listening to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata while gazing into this piece of work; it will take you deep into the world of Vagueness.
Comment from Hashida
Honestly this week’s theme was quite challenging. This marks the end of the 3rd volume of Inspire project, but it feels like though I’m digging out gemstones from my “mine of undiscovered potential”; while putting my body on the line every time.
I’m fairly exhausted but as Mr. Shinohara suggested, gazing at my work while listening to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata gently cleanses my soul.
This was yet another exciting volume of Inspire. Please look forward to the next one.
I am glad if you could give us your comment or impression about the Inspire project through here.